In a year filled with pandemic-related challenges, some individuals, teams and facilities were able to find new ways to reduce the Postal Service’s environmental impact and often its operating costs, as well. The USPS Sustainability Excellence Awards recognize these efforts.
This year, the awards — announced Sept. 27 during a virtual ceremony — took a slightly different tack by having members of the executive leadership team choose the honorees. After their selections, one honoree was chosen for the top prize, the Postmaster General Sustainability Excellence Award.
Here are this year’s four Sustainability Excellence Award winners, a brief description of their projects, and the executive leadership team member who selected them:
• Chief retail and delivery officer award: The Spokane, WA, Vehicle Maintenance Facility replaced the metal halide lighting fixtures and fluorescent tube lights that were original to the 2004 building with high-efficiency LED bulbs and fixtures — with the project’s cost completely covered by rebates from the local power company. The facility saved on its electricity bill, as well.
• Chief logistics and processing operations officer award: The Oklahoma City Processing and Distribution Center was recognized for its outstanding recycling program, part of its philosophy of continuous improvement and a Lean Six Sigma approach (sorting, setting in order, shining, standardizing, sustaining and ensuring safety). In addition to the usual recyclables, the center recycles batteries, fluorescent lights and electronic components, and serves as a recycling hub for offices throughout the state.
• Chief technology officer award: The Address Technology Group in the Chief Technology Office was recognized for automating certain change-of-address forms. Workers can now use their mobile or in-office devices to submit the appropriate forms. This streamlined process reduces costs and the Postal Service’s carbon footprint, with expected savings of $4.4 million annually.
• Chief financial officer’s award: The Asset Management Group’s Investment Recovery Team ingeniously solved the problem of what to do with plastic mail processing trays that have outlived their usefulness. When the recycler for the trays could no longer find a cost-effective way to keep them out of landfills, the team approached the original manufacturer, who now takes them back and picks up the cost for shipping them to their local recycler. In six months, the team kept more than 46,000 trays out of the landfill and generated $9,000 in revenue. This project was also honored with the postmaster general’s award.
The Sustainability Blue page has more information, including a list of honorees from previous years.